We’ve been here for over a month. The floors are oak that someone put carpet over but someone else ripped the carpet out, thank goodness . It’s somewhat drafty and badly insulated. Apparently our gutters aren’t great. The fan in the bathroom needs fixing. The kitchen is too small.
We hosted people in the backyard approximately every other day for the first month we were here. Now it’s cold and the backyard is soggy. There are some tomatoes that I should bring inside. I ate a pear right off the tree a few weeks ago and it was delicious. I got a tan but now that it’s cold I look kind of sallow. The cats settled in nicely. Husband and I manage to both be in the too-small kitchen without wanting to murder each other, and we’re both sort of amazed that this is so. The tub is pretty big and I spend a lot of time in there. The furnace is noisy and we don’t run it very much. My office is the warmest room. The bedroom is barely big enough for a bed and a dresser. We’ve managed to keep the place pretty tidy. My office is the only room that is a mess, but it’s getting better.
I’m a mess, but I’m trying to get better.
My job is trying to suck the life out of me, but now that I have a mortgage I’m not allowed to tell anyone to fuck themselves. I still love a lot about what I do, but management isn’t very kind to someone with brain damage. Downright unhelpful, actually. Last week was panic and this week is numb. Next week will likely be panic again.
I sit in my cold house with my warm cats and find peace wherever I can. I nest in my warm office with my cold thoughts and try to remember that things have a way of turning out okay, because I know this to be true. Most of the time, things turn out okay. I keep telling myself that.
It’s weird to be in such a bipolar state. Some things are going so well while other things are going so terribly. And I’m bouncing back and forth between elation and despair.
The house is really very nice and we’re quite happy to be here. I wish everything else was going so well.
My husband and I toured a house yesterday. Immediately when we got inside, I smelled mildew and fresh paint. That was not a good sign. We walked through a few times and told the realtor we’d think about it. On the way back home, we impulsively stopped at a Japanese restaurant and got a light lunch. We decided at that table that we would not buy the house (which did have some lovely features, but several more ticks in the “no” column than in the “yes.”)
And while we were sitting there, me noshing on edamame and sipping water, I told T that I think I’m spiraling a little bit. I’m impulsive. I don’t have a lot of control over my emotions, and I hate it. I have worked very hard to have control over myself, but lately I am snappish, mercurial, sullen. I speak without thinking and am overly friendly with people who (it seems to me) give me weird looks and then try to go back to what they were doing. I ache for connection but shrink away from it, full of doubt.
My normally pretty-damned-good self-esteem is faltering. I don’t think I’m a worthless pile of crap or anything, but I do have my moments of intense self-doubt and calling myself weird, stupid, or crazy, even if it’s only in my head. I can usually manage to push those feelings aside and move onto something else. But yesterday, I felt a sort of melancholy that I haven’t felt in quite awhile– this feeling that the ground was falling away from underneath me and I was in freefall toward… I don’t know. Some sort of emotional doom.
I know myself pretty well, so when I was telling T about all of this I said “I’ll probably feel better tomorrow, because I usually do feel better after a good night’s sleep.” And I was right, I do feel better today. Not all the way better, but no longer like the abyss is looming.
The past 14 months have been one of the most difficult periods of my whole life– and if you know me, you know that my life has had a lot of difficult periods. Already plagued with health issues, I did not need the addition of a traumatic brain injury. But that’s what I got, and I am doing what I can to make the best of it. In a life that’s probably about half over, I’ve learned that often that’s the best thing we can do.
I’m still employed and getting straight A’s in school. But it’s dragging. I’m dragging. My verve and enthusiasm that I worked so hard to cultivate are failing me right now. When we got married, T said he wanted to buy a house within five years, so I fixed my abysmal credit score, paid off debts, and started trying to save. When I enrolled in school, I decided I was going to kick ass and I have. I have done so much with hope and willpower, but now there are things in my life I can’t just power through. There are things, like buying a house, that are in many ways out of my control. Knowing that my goals are years away from being achieved is really taking a toll on my psyche. And I just don’t have the energy to go fast fast fast all the time like I always have. I get tired so easily. I can’t coast by with intelligence and willpower, I have to utilize that skill that I’m still trying to build and has never come naturally to me: patience. I hate patience.
Things have been better, and I’ve gotten stronger. But eventually strength isn’t enough. Smarts aren’t enough. Humor and pretty green eyes, unfortunately, don’t mean much in an insane housing market. They won’t give me a Masters degree for being cute. Work doesn’t accept “well, I’m trying” as a substitute for getting stuff done or answering the phone. And there are some days when the effort of just getting through is so exhausting that I sort of cease to function by 5pm. For awhile, grit, determination, and my eternal/infernal optimism were carrying me. But those things aren’t inexhaustible. I am so, so tired.
The despair I felt yesterday was something I used to feel much of the time. And I kind of marveled at it, like how did I live this way for so long? Because for a most of my life I saw myself standing next to a vast canyon, feeling the wind try to push me over the edge. Feeling parts of my brain telling me to just jump and get it over with. And for the past few years, even after my injury, I sensed that the cliff was still there, but that I was no longer standing at the edge. I’d moved into a clearing several dozen paces away, and I could not gaze into the bottom any longer, contemplating, wondering, tempted.
Yesterday I was closer to the edge again. The wind was whipping. The canyon loomed. And as I always have, I turned my back away. I looked toward the clearing. I kept my eyes on the hope, the potential, life. Because some days, that really is all you can do.
I haven’t blogged in awhile. It’s not because there’s nothing going on. There’s a LOT going on, it’s just that none of it is super interesting.
I’m still recovering from my stupid head injury. I got some money for it, which is nice. Started watching a bunch of The People’s Court on YouTube and realized that I could do a small claims suit. To sue someone in small claims court in Oregon you need to notify them first of your intent and give them time to respond. So I did that and the bastard surgeon just sent me money so we wouldn’t have to go through the whole nonsense of court.
T and I, with our newfound riches, started looking into buying a home and have quickly realized that we are not going to be able to do so without a miracle– or the cooling of the market, which will hopefully happen soon. 10 years ago we would have been able to afford something awesome, but Portland is very hot right now when it comes to real estate, so we need patience and probably to save more money. Or a miracle. If anyone would like to lend us a few tens of thousands of dollars, that’d be swell.
I had an evil coworker who left in the middle of last month, and that makes me happy because she’s terrible.
The cats are fine, we’re both basically fine, everything is FINE. I’ve gotten good at doing subtle makeup. So that’s nice.
I’m still in school, still gettin’ A’s, still plugging away at everything in hopes of a brighter future. I turned 41. I’m tired all the time.
We met in the swimming pool at our high school when I was a sophomore and you were a freshman. I had just given myself an appalling haircut, but you said it didn’t look too bad. I appreciated that
We didn’t get to know each other until I was a senior, in psychology class. We both tested as introverts but were the loudest people in the class. We argued a lot, but it was in good spirits. I broke up with my high school sweetheart and developed a big crush on you. I wrote you a letter to that effect, and you wrote back and used the word “ennui,” which had to look up. I wish I still had that letter.
We went on for years, almost being a “thing” but never made it over the threshold to being in an actual relationship. We dated. We kissed. You asked me one night to help you shed your virginity, and I did because… well, why the hell not? The only other time we slept together was right after your dad died. I didn’t know what else to do to console you.
I fucked around with your feelings an awful lot, and for that I’m sorry. All those times we were “almost, but not quite” were because of me. You were smart and funny and athletic and witty and kind, and wicked hot, and I… for some reason just couldn’t be in a relationship with you. On paper, you were everything I wanted. In practice, it always felt off. I shouldn’t have kept leading you on.
I once dumped you in front of a “no dumping” sign near a canyon. You pointed it out wryly.
You stopped speaking to me nigh on 20 years ago, and you were right to do so. I was a mess, and more importantly, I treated you like shit. I didn’t mean to, but that’s no excuse.
I thought about reaching out to you to apologize. You turned 40 yesterday, and I thought I’d look you up and see what you’re doing these days. I knew you were in a hoity-toity industry and had been for years. I knew you were still in our hoity-toity hometown. I stumbled on your Instagram.
You’re married. You have two sons. Your wife looks nice. You enjoy baseball. You lost much of your glorious hair. You look happy.
I decided not to reach out.
You’ll never read this, but if you ever did– or if I can send a thought out toward you, 700 miles away– I would tell you that I am deeply and truly sorry, that I think you’re wonderful, and that I am so, so happy that you seem so happy. I would tell you that I’m a better person now, that you had a positive impact on my life and taught me the word “ennui” and you were so beautiful and I’m so fucking sorry.
But that would be for me, not for you. You’re fine. You don’t need or want anything from me.
I like to do quizzes. My favorite site for quizzes is Sporcle. And I’ve always been into presidential trivia, ever since I was a young child and got a book with weird presidential facts at the Scholastic book fair. So I’ve been doing a lot of history and president quizzes, and I was having trouble with for a bit with the “identify these presidents by their pictures” quizzes. Some of the presidents look way too fucking alike. Grant, Hayes and B. Harrison are all beardy, all served in the late 1800s, and just don’t give you a lot to work with. So I wrote a list of the presidents and how to identify them/tell them apart (and some fun facts.) Enjoy!
(I’m also trying to memorize them all in order, but Millard Fillmore fucks it up. Who cares about Millard Fillmore?)
How to tell the presidents apart:
George Washington: Oh no, Grandpa forgot to put his teeth in, but his wig is perfect.
John “The OG” Adams: Big hair, painted portrait, sideburns. Looks like he takes the weight of the republic very seriously.
Thomas “Rights for All Men Except The Ones I Purchased” Jefferson: Redhead when young. Handsome. Ruddy cheeks. Looks like Thomas Jefferson.
James “Mad Dog” Madison: Looks kinda haughty, not bad looking, painted portrait, clean-shaven
James “Portraitists Hate Me” Monroe. Clean shaven, short brown hair. Painters were not kind to him.
John Quincy Adams: Conservative muttonchops, close-cropped white hair.
Andrew Jackson: Looks a lot like the guy on the $20 bill. Dessicated when older; he was probably exhausted from ordering the slaughter of all those “Injuns” on the Trail Of Tears.
Martin Van Buren: Glorious white muttonchops and floofy white hair to match. The only president who spoke English as a second language, and the first born after the American Revolution.
William Henry Harrison: Clean-shaven. Kinda looks like Sam Waterson. Shortest presidential term ever because he gave the lonest inauguration speech in history while standing in the pouring, freezing rain and apparently that’s a dumb thing to do. Got sick and died.
John Tyler: Cadaverously thin. Clean-shaven. Way too thin. Like, seriously, hook a brother up with a sammy or something.
James “Don’t Knox It Until You’ve Tried It” Polk: Clean shaven, had a man-about-town look to him, hair is white and kinda mullety, but cool?
Zachary “Zed To My Friends” Taylor: Kinda craggy, didn’t look happy. Clean-shaven.
Millard “Seriously? I was a president?” Fillmore: Bland-looking. Clean shaven. Kinda chubby. Who the fuck remembers Millard Fillmore?
Franklin “Ugly On The Inside” Pierce: Youngish, handsome, but also like super racist tho. Popped collar like he was hot shit. Clean-shaven.
James Buchanan: Older, handsome, bachelor, lookin’ for the hottest ladies. Popped collar, but more in a dandy sort of way. Clean-shaven.
Abraham Lincoln. He kinda looks like the guy on the penny.
Andrew Johnson: Looks like a vagrant that wandered into the presidency and is pissed about it. Clean-shaven, but looks like he thinks baths are for sissies.
Ulysses Grant. Shortish beard, haunted expression. On the younger side when elected. Easy to distinguish from other beardy presidents because he looks like he sees the ghosts of dying soldiers everywhere. Drank himself to death.
Rutherford “Ooh My Little Beardy One” Hayes: ONE OF THE CURSED BEARDED ONES. Uh… whiter beard than….
James “Not a Cat” Garfield: Not a cat. Also beardy. Browner hair/beard. But seriously, what the fuck. Assassinated, clearing the way for…
Chester A. Arthur: Inglorious muttonchips. From Vermont, but Vermonters are fine letting New York have him.
Grover “Not a Muppet” Cleveland. Looks like Taft, less-fancy mustache, marginally less obese.
Benjamin “Whitebeard” Harrison: The whitest beard of all the beardy beards. Also kept his beard rather well-groomed. Beard.
Grover “Deja-vu” Cleveland: Looks like he was president twice.
William “Denali” McKinley: Always looks like someone poked him in the butt and he’s offended. Assassinated.
T-Roos: If you don’t know what Teddy Roosevelt looks like, you’re a dumb-dumb.
William “Heavyweight” Taft: Fat, fancy mustache.
Woodrow “World War Won” Wilson: Looks like he’s gonna smack you one. Sometimes glasses. Clean-shaven, stern. Looks like he led his country through WWI and the Spanish flu and he’ll have none of your shit.
Warren Gamaliel Harding. Eyebrows. In many pictures looks like he’s on death’s door (he was!) Listed his middle name because for some reason I know it. Tenure marked by SCANDAL!
Calvin “The Potomac Sphinx” Coolidge. Clean-shaven, looks kinda like Truman, NO GLASSES, kinda smug but like he earned it. Vermonter, and this one we’re proud of.
Herbert “Damn Dam” Hoover: Chubby, looks nice enough to name homeless camps after. Clean-shaven.
Franklin “Polio Sucks” Roosevelt: Looks more and more like he’s about to die (he was!)
Harry “The S is for Sexy”. Truman: Glasses, looks like a swell guy other than that whole atomic bomb thing.
Double-D Eisenhower: Looks like your cool great-uncle if he happened to be a 5-star general.
John “The F is for Fuckmachine” Kennedy: Callow and wall-eyed.
Lyndon “Let Me Show You My Penis” Johnson: Looks like a dirty old man.
Tricky Dick Nixon: Looks hungover from all the souls he drank last night. Shifty.
Gerald “Oopsie, I’m the President” Ford: Looks completely out of his depth
Jimmy “Iran So Far Away” Carter: Just a simple peanut farmer! Looks like the kind of guy who’d not only give you directions, he’d draw you a map and send you off with a piece of his wife’s prize-winning cherry pie.
Ronald “The Gipper” Reagan: Resembles a movie star’s corpse.
George “READ MY LIPS NO NEW TAXES” Bush: Tends to look smug, taken aback, or a combination thereof.
William “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is” Clinton: Looks like he speaks with a drawl when he’s trying to steal your woman.
George “Walker Texas Ranger” Bush: Like an adolescent chimpanzee who is very impressed with himself.
Barack “Seriously, how can you think Kennedy was hotter than me?” Obama: Voted “Best Smile”
ERROR ERROR NO DATA PROCESS INTERRUPTED
Joseph Robinette Biden: Looks like grandpa still walks three miles a day and builds his own fences.
You can put your sponge in the dishwasher if it starts getting gross. Also, Dawn dish washing liquid rots sponges much faster than anything else I’ve used, which is sad because it really does a great job at cutting grease. I tend to use eco-friendly stuff because I’m a fantastic person.
If your cast iron has been used but isn’t super dirty and doesn’t have anything majorly stuck to it, you can clean it with vegetable oil instead of water. I know that people say it’s ok to use (gentle) soap on your cast iron, but I never do. Hot water if necessary, steel wool, a tablespoon of oil, and putting it back on the hot burner to make sure the oil soaks in while you rub it in really well. No oil should remain sitting on the surface. Think of it as polishing, not lubricating. Excess oil will bead up and leave brown stains on the your pan.
NEVER SOAK A CAST IRON PAN. Dry it as soon as it’s clean and rub it down with oil while heating it up.
If you have particularly stubborn crap stuck on a stainless steel pan, pretend you’re going to a science fair and mix up some household vinegar and baking soda in the pan. Heat it (medium low) on the stove if you want it to work faster to get the crap off. This also works on cast iron, but you want to be careful to not eat away all your seasoning, so only do it in an emergency.
Cast iron is the only way to really cook a steak on the stove, and I am willing to die on this hill.
For sticker residue, alcohol and a good scrub tends to work pretty well to get it up. Hand sanitizer works too! For something harder to remove, like bumper sticker adhesive, WD-40 is a very good thing to have around.
The same goes for permanent marker. Rubbing alcohol and/or WD-40 work very well. You can also use a normal pencil eraser to get most of it off something non-porous.
Dry erase marker cleans up permanent marker or stuck-on dry erase marker on a whiteboard. So does alcohol. It will mess up colored markers if you use them to clean up black ink, though, so be careful.
70% isopropyl alcohol is better for cleaning wounds than higher strengths. I’m not sure why this is, but I know that it is science.
Wayfair is cheap for a reason. That reason is that their stuff is cheaply made. However, their refund policy is pretty great.
Gatorade powder is available in stores and much cheaper (and better for the planet) than buying it one bottle at a time.
If you sew, you should have at least one pair of scissors that aren’t used for ANYTHING other than sewing. I have two pairs, one large and one small. If your (now former) sister-in-law uses your sewing scissors for something else even after you repeatedly told her not to, tell her that she sucks and go out and buy new scissors. Move out and take the good sewing machine since they’re both yours anyway.
Buy a decent sewing machine if you can afford it. Cheap ones break down really easily and do sloppy work.
Same with vacuum cleaners.
Dryer balls really do help make sure all your towels and other absorbent/thick items all get dry. Do not overstuff your washer or dryer. It’s better to do a second load than have a bunch of wet towels you have to hang up.
If your clothes are particularly smelly (socks, anything mildewed,) putting a cup of white vinegar in the washer with your detergent will usually take care of it.
Buy a waterproof, washable mattress cover. You might think “this is not necessary,” and I would tell you that you are a fool. Especially if you drink liquids in bed, or you’re planning to get e-coli.
Do not get e-coli. Maybe make sure there are no produce recalls or advisories before buying a salad from Dominos? Otherwise, when you wake up at 1:43 a.m. with the worst stomach cramps of your life and spend most of the rest of the night in the bathroom, you might end up stumbling on the article about tainted lettuce several hours too late.
If your shoes are not comfortable, do not wear those shoes. I buy used and discounted clothing all the time, in fact, I rarely buy anything else. But I do not do this with shoes. Shoes are vitally important because your foot bones connect to all your other bones eventually, and shitty shoes can hurt your knees, hips, and back.
If you are blessed with breasts, find a bra that fits and is comfortable to wear all day. If you still love it after a month, buy several more of them.
You can buy cheap beauty and skincare stuff and get by just fine, but the expensive stuff is often worth a splurge.
Take care of your skin so you don’t turn into a wrinkled old hag. Start doing this before you think it’s actually necessary. Otherwise you’ll have to invest a lot more into reversing the effects of sun damage, smoking, and general carelessness.
The Dollar Tree medicine aisle often has the stuff you need, and everything’s a dollar. Pregnancy tests, ibuprofen, generic Benadryl, wound care stuff… I even got retinol cream there that I use on my eyes at night (see previous part about skincare.)
That being said, name-brand Band-Aids are worth buying. Other brands (Curel!) make good stuff as well, but generic brands almost universally suck. Also, if you’re allergic to plastic bandaids, you might not be allergic to the fabric ones.
If you need stuff like fitness equipment, a curling iron, socks or new tights, etc.,) check Marshalls or Ross to see if they have it before splurging somewhere else.
If you have a milk sensitivity (not necessarily lactose intolerance; for me it isn’t the lactose) heavy cream might not set it off as much as milk does. Non-dairy creamer also seems to work for a lot of people and I can’t taste the difference in coffee and tea. Instead of using milk and butter in boxed mac n’ cheese (don’t you dare judge me) I often use heavy cream and maybe a little salt.
Poshmark, Mercari, and eBay are great for when you want vintage or designer shit but you aren’t rolling in money, god damn it.
I started this blog ten years ago this month. I didn’t realize that before I signed in to post, but it’s a neat little coincidence.
There’s a lot in here that I find embarrassing now. Several things I’m probably better off not looking into too deeply tonight. But I can’t bring myself to abandon it, even with all the ranting about a certain someone, even with all the bravado and outbursts and so much documentation of a time before I knew what was wrong with me and how to, mostly, stop.
I have a very sturdy government job and have been relatively stable and working in government jobs for years now. I’ve been with my partner since Summer 2014, and we eloped last month at our favorite bar. I did a jello shot. I seldom drink anymore. I quit smoking. I quit vaping. I got very fat. It is all very stable, for me, and I think the me of February 2010 would be horrified at how boring I’ve become. But I’m no longer tearing myself apart, and that’s worth something.
And here’s some Frank Turner to sum it all up:
I thought that suffering was something profound,
That weighed down on wise heads,
And not just something to be avoided,
Something normal people dread.
I just walked a mile and a half voluntarily. It’s part of my “I’m 35 now so I should probably get off my ass and try to make my life better” project. That might not sound like a lot of walking to you, but considering how sedentary I’ve been for the past nine months, it was an achievement.
I have my period this week, which usually (and currently) means dark moods and a deep well of depression that I have to continually back away from. In idle moments, my mind wanders and I start contemplating the futility of everything, and entropy, and the fact that it’s all basically meaningless. I have to pull myself away from that.
I see myself as basically stuck on this earth and in this life, and I know it’s my job to make the best of it and not bitch too much. I don’t really see the point sometimes, but I’m trying. What else can I do?
I have had a lot more energy! I want to get out and do things! I’m trying to get a job! But there’s not a lot to do, and no one has hired me yet, so there’s this drive to make progress but progress is very slow and not entirely under my control.
I was supposed to go swimming today, which means I proclaimed yesterday that I was GOING SWIMMING ON TUESDAY but it didn’t happen. I wasn’t exactly lazy, more exhausted. I knew that even if I got myself to the pool, which would be a bit of a slog, I wouldn’t have the energy to swim for an hour.
But the distance I just walked is further than that from here to the gym, so… maybe tomorrow? Maybe?
I am doing my best to stay away from the pit of despair and instead be hopeful and inspired and brave because, as I said, I’m stuck here. If I have to live this life, I might as well try to make it a good one. So that’s what I’m doing.
I turned 35 two days ago. I was pretty freaked-out by that number, but I’m feeling okay about it now. I still feel about 16, deep down. I’m trying to treat this birthday like a New Year, in that I’m making resolutions and trying to just… make my life better. You know?
It’s been months and months of sitting on my ass, feeling decrepit and sorry for myself, and I’m sick of it. I’m not back to 100% and there are things I can’t reasonably do, but there are a lot of things I can do and should at least try.
So I’m visiting doctors to try to get better, and taking my pills to try to stay sane, and I still feel like crap and kind of like dying, but there’s hope here as well, and that’s keeping me going.
When I turned 30, I freaked the hell out. I’m glad I’m not doing that now. Getting older is so weird. I don’t feel different, except in the ways that I do. Older, wiser maybe, a lot more exhausted. Today I’m swinging between panic and excitement.
So this post is just checking in, I guess. Hello, Internet. I’m still here.
I just spent six days in the psych ward of Providence Portland hospital. It was boring, but I feel better.
Things had been shit for awhile. I’d had trouble leaving the house by myself for six months, only occasionally making it further than the grocery store without someone to keep me company. Most of the time that person was T.
T and I have been together since July, 2014. He is over eight years younger than me. He is quite tall, he plays the bass, and he is a good kisser.
T doesn’t want private details on the internet, so I’m going to try to be careful here.
When we met, I was a cab driver, and he worked at my local e-cigarette shop. He still works there, actually. I gave my number to the sweet boys at the vape shop, and he sent me a text one night asking for a ride. Two weeks later I went to his apartment and never really left. Sounds like the beginnings of a fantastic love story! And it was, kind of.
But I am troubled, you see. And he is not entirely without troubles himself.
When I went to the hospital, it was because we’d been fighting all day and I became hysterical. He was being a shit, but I went nuts all out of proportion to what was going on. It had been a long time coming, I think, in that it got me to finally go to the hospital and get some help.
We are two stubborn, bright, funny, loving, intense, troubled people. We would be hard on anyone. We are hard on each other.
My paternal grandparents, from what I hear, sometimes couldn’t stand each other. They’d divide the kids and go live in different houses. My Grandpa was loved by everyone, my Grandma was apparently an evil witch. They managed to raise nine kids together and make it to see their fiftieth anniversary. I don’t know how they did that. I don’t know how anyone does.
Back in the old days, marriage was for life. Richer or poorer, better or worse, love or hate. Divorce was frowned upon, people were encouraged to work it out. That isn’t true anymore. People go through half-a-dozen marriages sometimes, or more, before they die. My dear friend Bruce is on #3, and he’s only 37. I have never been married, but I’ve had a few longer relationships. Sometimes they end with me throwing things.
I don’t know what makes love last. I don’t know how much you’re supposed to fight to keep something going when it’s so easy in today’s society to just walk away.
What I do know is that I am immensely lucky that I had my partner to come home to when I left the loony bin.